Federal Agencies Contingency Plans and Shut-down Status

Updated October 15, 2013 (3:00 PM)

Army Corps Of Engineers (UPDATE).  The Corps announced, effective today, the closure of all regulatory offices nationwide.  The Corps will no longer be able to process individual permit applications (including Section 404 permits), pre-construction notifications for nationwide permits or regional general permit authorizations, or requests for jurisdictional determinations until after current year funding is received and the offices reopen.  Contact Alan Mintz for further details.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  The BLM, a branch of the Department of the Interior, has halted nearly all activities except law enforcement and emergency response (including limited staff for wildland fire suppression).  Processing of oil and gas drilling permits, onshore mineral leasing sales and authorizations, right-of-way and other use permits, and other non-emergency activities are suspended.  Oil and gas inspection and enforcement activities will continue to the extent necessary to protect life and property.  Operators of pipelines and other facilities on existing rights-of-way or pursuant to other existing authorizations are permitted to continue operating, unless there are compliance issues that may result in damage to government property or threat to public safety.  All visitor centers and facilities will be closed, as will campgrounds, other recreation sites, and the BLM’s National Recreation Reservation System.  Six-hundred employees (5.5% of BLM’s total) will continue working as exempt personnel, and 550 employees will remain on-call for emergency services and other critical functions.  Exempt staff includes those working on helium operations, Alaska pipeline-related activities, and certain right-of-way monitoring and compliance activities.  Contact Jonathan Simon or Joseph Nelson for further details.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS will continue most Affordable Care Act activities including coordination between Medicaid and the Marketplace, insurance rate reviews, and assessing the percent of premiums spent on medical services. Medicare will not be disrupted significantly.  CMS will use existing FY2013 appropriations to fund states for Medicaid and CHIP.  Contact Nancy McNally for further details.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC will continue essential services at significantly reduced capacity, including responding to outbreak investigations, processing lab samples, and maintaining the 24/7 emergency operations center.  CDC will continue programs funded outside the normal appropriations process including World Trade Center health program, PEPFAR, the Global AIDS program, and the Vaccines for Children program.  CDC will not continue other programs including the annual influenza program, updating disease treatment recommendations, and technical assistance to support state and local partners in disease surveillance.  Contact Nancy McNally for further details.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).  CFTC announced on October 1 that it will not publish public reports such as Cotton on Call, Commitment of Traders and the Bank Participation Report during the government shut-down.  However, the Commission reminds affected parties that compliance with all mandatory filings is required.  Contact Lisa Epifani for further details.

Department of Energy (DOE).  While DOE’s contingency plan states that the Department has sufficient prior appropriated funds to remain open for the time being, the Department’s website is not currently being updated.  Please contact DOE directly if you have specific questions about continued operations of particular offices during the lapse in appropriations.  Contact Doug Smith for further details.

Department of the Interior (DOI).  Interior will close some offices. However, those focused on law enforcement and safety (comprising 20% of DOI’s workforce) will remain open. BLM will terminate all non-emergency activities on public land. The Office of Surface Mining will be open only to respond to emergencies. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will largely suspend activities. On the other hand, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement would continue drilling and offshore permitting operations. Renewable energy activities would be suspended. The Bureau of Reclamation would continue providing water and power services, largely through customer funded operations, including at Hoover Dam. Contact Joseph Nelson for further details.

Energy Information Administration (EIA).  The EIA is a division of the Department of Energy.  As of October 11, EIA ceased releasing reports and data, and its Information Center was closed.  Respondents to EIA data collection efforts are instructed to continue reporting on a normal schedule; however, no staff at EIA will be available to respond to questions regarding submissions.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  EPA is not updating their website with additional information about closures.  Please contact EPA directly if you have specific questions about continued operations during the lapse in appropriations.  Contact Kyle Danish for further details.

Federal Courts.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has denied two requests by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to delay oral arguments in pending challenges to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulemakings.  Because the court denied the request to delay proceedings, DOJ and EPA personnel needed to prepare for oral arguments are exempt from furlough to the extent required by the court’s order.  Contact Mike McBride for further details.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) (UPDATE).   FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff indicated that he believes the agency could continue operating at full staff for “at least another couple of weeks.”  [Subscription required].   A FERC spokesman stated that there was no clear timetable for when normal business operations would cease if the shutdown continues.  Contact Doug Smith,Susan Olenchuk or David Yaffe for further details.

Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  FWS, a branch of the Department of the Interior, will maintain sufficient staff to serve as animal caretakers at hatcheries and captive breeding facilities, safeguard life and property at wildlife refuges, and provide law enforcement and emergency services including fire management.  Additional personnel will remain on call in case of a large-scale incident.  All public facilities will be closed.  FWS has not indicated overall staffing numbers.  Contact Jonathan Simon orJoseph Nelson for further details.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  FDA will continue operating components funded by user fees rather than appropriations.  FDA will also continue essential activities including emergency consumer protection services, high-risk recalls, civil and criminal investigations, and import review.  The agency will not operate the remainder of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities including routine inspections, import monitoring, notifications and most laboratory research. Contact Nancy McNally for further details.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  NOAA has taken down its main agency webpage and most of its associated webpages.  The National Weather Service’s website,Weather.gov, will continue to be updated throughout the government shut-down.  Contact Jonathan Simon for further details.

National Park Service (NPS).  The National Park Service remains closed except for essential activities.  However, since our last update, the agency has reached agreements with several states to temporarily re-open certain national parks using state and other non-federal funding.  These arrangements recognize the substantial economic impact that closure of the national parks is having on many communities and local businesses.  To date, re-opened parks include:

NPS is considering similar agreements with other states that have expressed interest in funding the reopening of certain national parks within their boundaries.  Reportedly, the governors of Washington, Nevada, and Wyoming have rejected this option. In addition, the agency continues to consider the reopening, on a case-by-case basis, of specific national park concession operations that can be accessed by open through-roads or private property and that do not require additional federal funding to operate.  Contact Jonathan Simon or Joseph Nelson for further details.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  On October 10, NRC sent almost all of its employees furlough notices as the Commission’s prior-year funding ran out.  The NRC shut-down plan provides for approximately 300 of the Commission’s 3,900 employees to report to work during the lapse in federal appropriations, including resident inspectors and personnel needed to respond to an emergency event.  In addition, all public meetings and enforcement proceedings are suspended during the government shut-down, except for the Yucca Mountain licensing proceeding, as that project is funded separately by the Nuclear Waste Fund.  A post on the NRC blog offers further information.  Contact Mike McBride for further details.

Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). As an office within the Department of Transportation, PHMSA is subject to DOT’s contingency plan for a lapse in appropriations.  The plan calls for 167 employees to continue work during a government shut-down and the continuation of operations related to investigations and enforcement.  Contact James Curry for further details.

Rural Utilities Service. The Rural Development office of the USDA will keep only 1% of its staff (53 employees) working during the shutdown.  The Rural Utilities Service will be completely shut down, with no staff excepted.  During the shutdown, no additional loans or grants will be available, except for emergency purposes; this includes any loans or advances for modernizing electric infrastructure.  Although the Rural Energy for America Program is funded via no-year appropriations, it will not continue operating unless required to preserve USDA property.  Contact David Yaffe for further details.  

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC has indicated that its prior year appropriations have not yet been exhausted and remains open for the time being.  Contact Lisa Epifani for further details.

Surface Transportation Board (STB).  The STB announced on its website that all deadlines for the submission of material to the Board will be tolled for the duration of the lapse in appropriations.  Contact Mike McBride for further details.

U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  The USFS is a branch of the Department of Agriculture.  During the shutdown, it will continue certain activities to protect life and property, including fire suppression, law enforcement, natural disaster response, and protection of federal facilities.  All USFS-operated developed recreation areas are closed; general areas and concessioner-operated facilities generally remain open for the time being.  USFS estimates that staff will be furloughed over several days, until 41% of its staff (13,260) remains working in these excepted activities after day 5 of the shut-down.  Contact Jonathan Simon for further details. 

United States Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG, an office within DHS unless activated for military purposes, remains open for essential services including search and rescue, port and homeland security, law enforcement, environmental response, and activities to maintain military readiness. More routine and commercial operations including vessel construction inspections, seaman licensing, bridge administration, recreational boating safety activities, community relations, procurement, and oversight have been suspended for the duration of the lapse in appropriations. Contact Ben McMakin for further details.